Presentation on theme: "Preparing for your Masters Dissertation Academic Development Directorate (ADD) Dr Jacob Eriksson"— Presentation transcript:
Preparing for your Masters Dissertation Academic Development Directorate (ADD) Dr Jacob Eriksson
Learning outcomes To gain an understanding of the early research process To appreciate the importance of composing focused research questions To gain an understanding of what makes a successful dissertation, and the common difficulties encountered in the course of producing a dissertation
What are we dealing with? What is a dissertation? What makes a successful dissertation?
Dissertation vs Essay writing Length – 10,000 words Harder to sustain arguments through a longer text, and easy to get side-tracked Depth or level of analysis YOU ask the questions! (And provide the answers)
A successful dissertation… Is on a topic that excites you! Has a clear intellectual basis in academic study Is guided by focused and achievable research questions Makes a coherent argument
Initial stages Selecting a topic Reviewing relevant literature Breaking down the chosen topic Identifying an underlying question or issue: problematising Generating questions and hypotheses Thinking about research methodology Thinking about who your supervisor might be
Initial reading: the basis of your literature review Exploring your topic area Identifying existing claims and counter-claims Finding a gap in current research or debates Collecting evidence Tip: check references and bibliographies!
Feasibility What impact is the land reform policy in Zimbabwe having on the economy of the country?
Feasibility criteria Is your research topic too broad? Is it too vague or ambiguous? Do you have enough time to complete it? Will data or existing literature be available and accessible to you? Is your chosen topic too recent?
Methodology What kind of sources will you look to – primary, secondary, empirical? What kind of information or data will you need to collect in order to answer key research questions? You must make the rationale for data collection clear and justify it
The so what? factor Why is this topic worth researching? Why are you asking these particular research questions? What do you want to find out? How does your research complement existing scholarship? Why is your dissertation worth reading?
Breaking down a topic Conflict resolution theory; realist power vs. social psychological approach Sweden as a mediator; why were they suitable? Nature of the conflict; how does this affect a mediation approach? Sweden and The Stockholm Channel; pre-Camp David, May 2000 Comparison between different mediators? Norway, USA? How to measure success and failure of mediation? Sources? Situation on the ground; how did this affect negotiations? Legacy of Oslo; how did this influence the Swedes? Origins of the initiative?
Generating research questions Why was Sweden accepted as a mediator by both the Israelis and Palestinians? Was the mediation strategy they chose to adopt appropriate given the conflict and conflict context? What did the Stockholm Channel achieve, if anything? How did Swedish efforts compare to another small-state mediator, like Norway, or a superpower mediator, like the USA?
Generating research questions From these questions, a more comprehensive question can be formulated: What were the main reasons for the failure of the Stockholm Channel to produce a Framework Agreement on Permanent Status?
Generating a working hypothesis This question can then be turned into a working hypothesis: Although the Stockholm Channel ultimately failed to produce a Framework Agreement on Permanent Status, the Swedish mediators were not at fault. Swedish strategy was sound. The collapse of negotiations was due to the actions of the parties and the situation on the ground.